Making sure that every medicine is of the highest standard possible.
Working in Quality Control
In the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, quality control is vital for all raw materials, intermediates and finished products. Each must have specifications set for them as well as being sampled and tested. All supplies that come into the factory have to be carefully controlled. Raw materials must meet the specification set by the company, and all batches are tested against this specification.
To safeguard the quality and efficacy of the medicines being produced, teams of analytical chemists, microbiologists, environmental scientists and safety experts work closely with manufacturing colleagues to see that every medicine produced is of the highest standard possible. They also check that the bi-products of the process do not adversely affect the local environment.
The procedures involved in quality control may range from simple chemical experiments and tests to determine the identity and presence of particular pharmaceutical products, which may include different chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques, through to more complex requirements to establish intricate details.
Required skills and qualifications
Quality control is an area within manufacture and supply with a range of job opportunities and roles. As a result, the required qualifications vary.
If you carry out simple tests and inspections, educational requirements usually do not exceed high school and some in-house training. Post-school study, such as a life sciences degree, and relevant industry experience will improve chances of employment, and may be a requirement. There is also a range of apprenticeships offered by pharmaceutical companies, for more information see the apprenticeships page.
The key skills required for Quality Control roles are:
- Attention to detail
- Excellent communication and team work skills
- Numerical skills, such as calculating proportions and percentages
- Patience and the ability to complete lengthy inspections and reports
The career prospects for roles within quality control are wide ranging and varied. If you start as a technician, without much responsibility, you can gain experience and training that will enable you to move into areas of quality with greater responsibility. As your career progresses you may get the chance to work with new instruments and techniques, as well as potentially moving into management. It may also be possible to train as a Qualified Person or move into regulatory areas of the industry.
Salaries for entry-level analysts and technicians without significant experience or qualifications are likely to be £17,000 - £22,000. With increased experience and responsibility, salaries can increase incrementally up to around £50,000. Exact salary information is difficult to generalise, and depends entirely on the organisation and location as well as your experience and level of responsibility.
For further information, take a look at the following career case studies within this area of the industry:
Last modified: 20 September 2023
Last reviewed: 20 September 2023